Public Services > Central Government

Defra hunts new CDO to help re-imagine services for a post-Brexit world

David Bicknell Published 14 February 2017

Chief digital officer role will carry salary of around £115K to help department embrace digital and data


The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is looking for a chief digital officer  to help achieve the digital transformation it believes will play a key role in re-imagining how the department delivers its services in a post-Brexit world outside the EU.

Defra’s chief digital officer in Digital, Data and Technology Services (DDTS) is likely to earn an annual salary of £115K for the Senior Civil Service (SCS) Pay Band 2 post, which has a range between £86,000 and £162,500.

The successful candidate for the role will report to Defra’s chief digital, data and technology officer John Seglias. The closing date for applications is February 20.

In a candidate pack introducing the chief digital officer opportunity at Defra, Seglias said, “This is an exciting time to join Defra. We are responsible for England’s natural environment, our countryside and rural economy, the food and farming sectors, and lead responsibility for protection from a wide range of natural threats and hazards.

“The department has an ambitious strategy for the next four years. We are committed to an ambitious programme of change - radically reforming the way we work to deliver our objectives more efficiently and serve customers better through innovative new digital solutions.

“An explicit component of this programme is to embrace Digital and Data. Defra’s Spending Review bid secured significant funding for this Digital Transformation, as well as modernising its core infrastructure and end-user environment so that we can enable flexible working and transform efficiency and productivity. The forthcoming exit of the UK from the EU adds additional challenges and opportunities to the department. Digital transformation will play a key role in re-imagining how we deliver some of our services in a future outside the EU.”

The job specification outlined the role as “a rare opportunity to be part of a large-scale programme of change that will radically improve how Defra operates and interacts with businesses and citizens. You will drive transformation by challenging the status quo and transforming Defra’s services through the use of digital technology.”

Defra’s permanent secretary Clare Moriarty outlined Defra’s ambitions in a presentation to the Think Digital Government conference last Friday.  Discussing “undesigning for open government”, Moriarty said, “Over the last year to 18 months, we’ve been working on how we can understand what’s happening and improve the experience of our customers by organising ourselves and our services better. We are trying to put much more focus on outcomes: outcomes for customers and outcomes for the environment and less on organisational structures.

“Digital transformation has been at the heart of everything we’ve been thinking about around this because we know that that is the way that we can streamline, give people one point of access, do things better for customers and also do it in a more efficient way.

“Clearly life changed for us on the 24th June. We thought we were busy on the 23rd June.  And since the 24th June we have had one huge priority which sits alongside everything we were doing already. The things that have come along, the EU exit, have not displaced the things that government was doing already but they do mean that we are having to do a lot of things and work out how we manage the priorities.

“The good news about that is that there are opportunities to design data and digital into the way that we think about our futures in a way that we never expected to happen.”

Moriarty recently discussed her thoughts on making government open by design and in operation in a workshop at the recent Govcamp “unconference”.  The session discussed how Defra is keen on giving its civil servants more permission to come up with their own ideas and get on and do things. i.e. delivering government that is open by design and in operation.

Other Think Digital Government conference speakers were GDS' deputy director, standards assurance, Olivia Neal; Tom Smith, managing director of Data Science Campus; Jessica Figueras, chief analyst, GlobalData Public Sector; Office for National Statistics; Greg Bailey, chief technology officer, FCO Services; Max Tse, director for transformation of the National Audit Office; Simon Hansford, chief executive, UKCloud; Gary Barnett, head of End User Advisory, GlobalData Technology; Adam Gwinnett, head of Digital Architecture & Cybersecurity; HM Courts & Tribunal Service; Betony Kelly, Group Head of Strategic Engagement, Digital Transformation, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills; and Rebecca Kemp, Digital Director, ex UKTI, BIS, PHE.

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.